How to Make a Vinaigrette Without a Recipe

If you want to make a fabulous salad, take a look at what you are dressing it with.  Homemade vinaigrette's are so simple to make and they will push your salads over the top.

I cannot remember the last time I purchased bottled dressing for a salad.

Many years ago, while visiting my parents in Tahiti, we were invited to some friends house for dinner.  We were served a salad that consisted of greens and a vinaigrette.  That's it!  My first bite nearly knocked my socks off.  It was STRONG, PUNGENT, and burned all the way down.  Being polite I continued to eat the salad.  I was soon addicted to the salad dressing.  I couldn't stop eating it.  I was given a demonstration as to how it was made.  The recipe consisted of white vinegar, about 100 cloves of garlic (I'm exaggerating, but seriously close), brown spicy mustard and oil whisked together.  It was fabulous!  It cleaned out my insides. It was one of  the best salads that I have ever had and one of the most simple as well.

I have learned that fabulous salad greens and a great dressing is all that is needed.  Remember the greens make the difference.  Choose fresh leafy lettuce varieties.  Skip over that head of iceberg lettuce. PLEASE! Toss with a quick and easy vinaigrette that you can whip up in just a few quick minutes.  Fresh and fabulous.

No recipe is needed.  You just need to remember a few simple key ingredients.

Acid:  Lemon juice or vinegar are my favorite acids to use.  You can really create some fabulous salad dressings by finding different flavors of vinegar.  If I'm making an Asian flair salad or slaw, I use a seasoned rice vinegar.  Italian flair - Balsamic vinegar is amazing.  

Oil:  Olive oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil (canola or vegetable not allowed)
Choose your oil carefully.  If I want the flavor of the salad to come through I will choose a light extra-virgin olive oil.  For stronger flavored greens like kale and Brussels sprouts I like a strong flavored extra-virgin olive oil.  My daughter tuned me into using Avocado oil, which makes one fabulous salad dressing mixed with lemon juice.  

A word on nut oils.  Nut oils are generally used as a flavoring oil.  I only use a 1-2 teaspoons of nut oils in a salad dressing for flavor.  If you used 1/2 cup of a nut oil in your dressing, it would be too strong and that is all you would taste.  

The oil you use should taste great on it's own.  

Seasonings:  salt and pepper, garlic, shallots, fresh herbs (dry herbs = yuck)

I have had some salad dressings made with a red onion.  I think that a shallot is a better option.  Shallots and a little milder in flavor.  A raw red onion can be very strong.  (my opinion).

Fresh herbs create a new level of flavor to a salad.  Like this French Vinaigrette from a previous post.

Emulsifiers:  Dijon, honey mustard, brown spicy mustard, creme fraiche, sour cream or mayonnaise.

Emulsifiers are optional and not completely necessary in making a salad dressing.  Once again a spoonful of Dijon adds another layer of flavor.  I'm really into layering flavors, if you haven't already noticed. 

Emulsifiers do exactly what the words says.  Adding a spoonful of mustard, then whisked really well will help the acid and oil stay together.  Preventing the vinaigrette from separating.  How's that?

I rarely use mayo because not one person in my family likes the stuff with the exception of myself.  Ranch dressing in my home was never an option because it contained the "m" word (mayo).  This led me to making and creating my own dressings.  Sometimes we are forced into creativity, which leads to learning and succeeding.  

Now that you have the basics down let's make my favorite vinaigrette.  It's the most simple of all.

I have the juice of 1/2 a lemon.  Sprinkle in salt to your taste.

Add a few grinds of fresh ground pepper.  Let me repeat that...FRESH GROUND PEPPER.  If you only have canned black pepper, give it a toss into the waste basket.  I have no use for canned ground black pepper.  Try it.


Drizzle in your favorite oil slowly while whisking.

That's it!  This is what I like best tossed with fresh leafy lettuce.

Let's change it up a bit.  Let's say I want a stronger flavored dressing because I have tossed in kale or spinach.

Add a spoonful of Dijon mustard.  This happens to be lemon dill Dijon that I made.

Using an emulsion blender or whisking vigorously.

Begin to mix.

While slowly adding the olive oil.

I have read that one should use a ratio of 1 part acid to 2 parts oil for a salad dressing.

I say the least amount of oil used the better.  Adjust to your taste buds.

This takes about 10 seconds.


If the lemon flavor is too tart for your liking, just whisk in more oil.

How easy is that?

Let's mix it up and make a sweet vinaigrette.

I'm going to use a pomegranate flavored vinegar (oh yum), mustard with maple syrup, light flavored EVOO, spring honey that I purchased from a stand at the side of the road that is so delicious I'm probably going to be eating it with a spoon, salt and pepper.

Same process.  Add some vinegar to a bowl.

Drizzle in a spoonful of honey.

Pinch of salt.

A few grinds of black pepper.

 A spoonful of that amazing mustard.

Give it a whisk.

Slowly add olive oil while vigorously whisking.

Taste.  Adjust the flavors if needed.

Add poppy seeds.  So much better than the bottled poppy seed dressing (ick)

Remember, this is your salad dressing so you can adjust to your taste.  If you want it sweeter add more honey.  If you don't like honey, use sugar.

Don't forget to find a variety of leafy greens.  I love using a mixture for color and flavor.

Remember to lightly dress not drench the lovely greens. Making your own vinaigrette will brighten your salad.

Start creating and share your ideas with the rest of us.

Be sure to check my recipe index for other salad recipes.  There are 10 recipes all  tossed with a homemade dressing.  You can find exact measurements for each recipe with step-by-step photos and instructions, but I want you to try creating without a recipe.


Simply So Good No-Recipe for Homemade Vinaigrette

1. Acid:  Lemon juice or vinegar
2. Oil:  Extra virgin Olive oil, Grapeseed oil, Avocado oil, etc.
    Nut oils should only be used for flavoring.
3. Seasonings:  salt and pepper, garlic, chopped shallots, fresh herbs
4. Emulsifier (optional): Dijon mustard, creme fraiche, sour cream,       mayonnaise.

Whisk together.

NOTE:  Vinaigrette will keep in the refrigerator for a day or so, but I make mine fresh as needed.

Print no-recipe


  1. I love this! Thanks for posting. I've always wanted to know how to do this. It's so simple and yet my dressing is usually too acidic or oily. :)

    1. Just keep tasting and adjusting. You can always add more oil and a bit of sugar can help cut the acidic taste. I'm sure you have had great success. Phil is one lucky guy.

  2. all i can say is...... yum!

  3. Thank you for giving me some new ideas. I love a homemade vinaigrette and Mango vinegar is a favorite of mine.

  4. Thank you so much for your post. I have had a bottle of peach balsamic vinegar in my pantry, waiting to make it into a dressing. So I'm thinking the emulsifier should be sour cream? And the fresh herbs, basil? What do you think? You're a genus in the kitchen. The other day, you "held my hand" as I made your pie dough for my apple pie. It was great! I love the recipe. The only thing I think I did wrong was I made it a little too thick. I have a great apple pie filling that I love. My goal is to make a fantastic, unforgettable apple pie. So thank you for helping me get a little closer!

  5. HI Tami, Actually you don't have to use an emulsifier. You can just whisk the vinegar, oil and fresh herbs together. I'd probably use a bit of Dijon mustard, if you want. It will help keep the oil from separating. That's just my opinion. I use sour cream or mayo if I'm wanting a creamy dressing, but that's just me. I can't wait to hear how the dressing tastes. I bet it's going to be fabulous.